On May 28th, Experience Life in a whole new way and meet Peter and Egon, two Prevost’s squirrels (Callosciurus prevostii) who will be free-roaming in the Rainforest Pyramid® at Moody Gardens®.
These two brilliantly colored squirrels are actually the offspring of squirrels who were evacuated out of the pyramid due to Hurricane Ike and were relocated to the San Antonio Zoo. The S.A. Zoo had success in breeding the squirrels, so Moody Gardens decided to not interfere with the program, but to take some of the offspring.
In the wild, Prevost’s squirrels are found in south-east Asia. They are the most colorful of all squirrels. Their back and tail are glossy black in color and their belly and legs are bright, chestnut red. They also have a white band that extends along the sides from the nose to the base of the tail. Prevost’s squirrels have short forelimbs with a small thumb and longer hind limbs. They have sharp claws for clinging to tree branches and soft pads on the soles of their feet.
These small creatures are active during the day and dwell in the tree-top canopies. A hollowed out tree or a nest of leaves high in the canopy is usually where the squirrel will make its home. They are excellent at jumping and climbing and can jump considerable gaps between the trees. Their long bushy tails help them balance when they run and climb and they also act a rudder when they jump. On the ground, Prevost’s squirrels move in a sequence of graceful leaps, often pausing to raise their heads and look around.
Their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sometimes bugs and small eggs. They have a single pair of chisel shaped incisors in each jaw and a large gap in front of the premolars due to the absence of canine teeth. These teeth will grow continuously throughout their lives, so the squirrels will gnaw on wood to file them down. When feeding, they will squat on their haunches while holding the food between their front paws. They will also carry fruit far from the tree of origin and drop seeds when they are finished with their meal. With the seeds far from the parent tree, there is a decreased likelihood of the seeds being eaten by other animals and a good opportunity for a new generation of trees to be produced.
Prevost’s squirrels are sexually mature at one year of age and females will give birth to a litter of two to three pups after a five week gestation period. Infants are born naked, toothless and helpless. At about six weeks of age the offspring will be fully furred and will start to venture out of the burrow.
While these squirrels are not endangered, they are threatened due to loss of habitat and pet trade. So, come meet Peter and Egon when the Rainforest Pyramid® at Moody Gardens® opens on May 28th!
- Unlike their ground squirrel cousins, Prevost’s squirrels do not hibernate.
- Their generic name Callosciurus means “beautiful squirrel”.
- Prevost’s squirrels use their tails to communicate.
Watch the following video to learn more about Peter and Egon and come meet them in person May 28th at the Rainforest Pyramid®!
(Click here if the following video is not functioning)